The votes of the people are tabulated! The 2011 PHL17 Viewers Choice Awards are in and once again the people have spoken. You may recall that Polish American finished first in the 2010 Viewers Choice Poll in the String Bands and that South Philly Vikings finished first in the Fancy Brigades in the 2010 Viewers Choice Awards. Who won this year and how close were some of the finishes?
The number one String Band on New Year’s Day, 2011, according to the viewers is Quaker City String Band! The number one Fancy Brigade for 2011 is Bill McIntyre’s Shooting Stars! Quaker’s Clown theme and the Stars’ Scottish theme were strong crowd pleasers. Here’s how the top finishers fared in the 2011 Viewers Choice Poll. In parenthesis is where each band finished in the official judging, so you can compare.
The Viewers Choice String Band Top Ten Order of Finish.
1. Quaker City(1) 2. Polish American(8) 3. Ferko(2)
4. South Philadelphia(3) 5. Fralinger(4) 6. Pennsport(15)
Quaker won by a substantial margin and the result is in keeping with the buzz you heard on the street New Year’s Day. In music, in production and in eye-candy costuming, they put it all together on January 1, 2011.
Polish American moved up significantly from its official finish, but that should not be surprising in that the theme and performance were familiar and sound, and that Captain Mark Danielewicz did such a fine job. The official judges named him 1st Prize Captain. P-A always finds a way to give String Band fans something they’ll like from Mummers Row to Port Richmond.
The next 3 finishers in the 2011 Viewers Choice Poll were so close in voting as to be nearly interchangeable. That too, is not surprising in the sense of how good Ferko, South Philadelphia and Fralinger were and how different their performances were in style. The biggest mover is Pennsport String Band, finishing 6th in the poll, but 15th in the judging. However, again, this is likely accounted for by the accessibility factor with “Marching to Our Own Beat,” the veteran Mummers that they are and their good performance, Captain Charlie Nicholas, and the fact that the people voting when they are voting makes them less likely to be influenced by where a band is in the Order of March. Woodland comes in similar to its judging finish. Aqua moves up 3 spots, as did Durning. Durning’s Christmas theme was popular with the crowd. Uptown ends up close to its official position.
The top 5 finishers in the Fancy Brigades in the eyes of the viewers for 2011 are (with official finish in parenthesis)
3. Jokers(1) 4. Satin Slipper(7) 5. Downtowners(5)
The Shooting Stars had one of the best uses of lighting that I’ve seen in awhile. Their Scottish “Haunted Highlands” theme was very well executed and enjoyable. If there is a conclusion that you can draw over the 5 years of the Viewers Choice Award, it is that while the viewers often mirror the judges, there are always some variations and more often than not, those differences of opinion are over the accessible entertainment value rather than specific criteria that judges might look at. You’ll often find accessible themes and presentations being warmly received by the viewers. More simply put, they are “wowed.” That wow factor was obvious in the audience when it saw South Philly Vikings’ flying carpets. The flying carpets are an example of what I call “eye-propping.” The Vikings and the Jokers finished very close to each other in the Viewers Choice Poll, almost a tie for second. The Jokers did “Clash of the Titans” and it was all that among the brigades on New Year’s Day inside the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Satin Slipper moved up 3 spots with the Viewers Choice Poll. Downtowners held its position same as in the judging, at number 5.
On another note, a formal thank you to the great Fancy Brigade Captains of New Year’s Day. Here’s a look at how the top 2 Captain’s positions ended in the official judging. 1st Prize Captain on New Year’s Day went to Joe Gallagher (total points 178.50). The performance by “Bad News” was outstanding and his role fit excellently into the production. Captain Jack Hatty, Jr.(175.00), of Saturnalian, finished 2nd Prize Captain. Jack’s costume soaked up your eyes. A beautiful costume, including that powerful headdress. Jack’s production and performance were a part of and enhanced the theme. He had a strong purpose. If an energetic performance can be graceful, Jack and Saturnalian did it. Joe Gallagher accomplished something similar. The Jokers props were mammoth and there’s always the risk that a Captain can get lost, but Joe did not. He was a titan himself, as “large” as the props.
Outgoing Shooting Stars Captain Mickey Adams performed well as the leader of the “Haunted Highlands.” Mickey has a commanding presence every time he steps onto the floor. Pete D’Amato, Captain of South Philly Vikings, put together a top shelf interactive Captain’s performance. He wove himself well into the theme and throughout the routine.